Today we review the F style mandolin by Loar, model LM-250-VS.
There are two styles of mandolin: the A style and F style, both of which were developed in the early 1900s by Gibson. These models are modern takes on the traditional bowlback mandolins of the Renaissance era. A style mandolins are simplistic in design with a body shaped like a pear, or the letter A, hence the name. F style mandolins are favoured by bluegrass players as the bodies have decorative scrolls, which also contribute to a different sound.
This instrument lost popularity for a long time until the Paris World Fair hosted a mandolin orchestra in the 1890s. At the beginning of the 1900s, mandolins were very popular as a chosen pastime or hobby. They lost popularity again during the World Wars, but then into the 1950s every bluegrass group had a mandolinist, and into the 1960s they were very present in the rise of folk music.
The Loar LM-520-VS Performer is a beautiful, high quality mandolin with all kinds of special features setting it above the rest. It is all solid wood, hand carved and spectacular both in terms of sound and appearance. The top, which is the layer of the body against which the strings rest, and where the F holes are carved, is made of solid, hand-carved and fully graduated spruce.
The back and sides are also made of solid, hand-carved wood: maple, to be exact. These types of wood are favoured for their durability and contribution to the overall sound of a mandolin, as different woods have different absorption and reverb qualities.
The maple neck is a true beauty with a rounded V profile, indicative of quality craftsmanship. Each corner of the instrument was beautifully handled during assembly. The fretwood is made of bound rosewood. Finally, the bridge is compensated adjustable ebony. You should always look for an adjustable bridge on the mandolin as this contributes to intonation and pitch of the strings.
This model is in The Loar’s performer series as a response to requests for great sounding, high value mandolins with low key appointments. The solid wood and hand carved details show that this mandolin was carefully built every step of the way.
On the neck you will find high quality vintage-style Grover tuning machines to ensure the mandolin stays in tune no matter how hard it’s played. This model is minimally appointed for those players who want a high quality sound without extra fancy things that would drive the cost up. You will get high-end tone, chop and projection.
From hand-carved woods to inlay detailing, The Loar combines expert craftsmanship with classic design for best sound, playability and timeless beauty. These particular models are throwbacks to instruments from the 1920s and 30s.
This mandolin comes in glossy sunburst finish for a classic vintage look. The tuning machines are Grover with pearloid buttons. We see Mother of Pearl “The Loar” logo as the headstock inlay. The scale length is 13-29/32”. Nut material is bone, and they measure 1-1/8”. The truss rod is two-way adjustable. The beautiful fretboard carries the standard 29 frets. The binding is all ivoroid.
The craftsmanship and overall look of the thing is impressive. Best of all it comes assembled and set up and ready to play. You will have to check the tuning of the strings upon receiving the mandolin, and you can do this by using an online tutorial or by purchasing a music book with included playalong CD.
This mandolin just hits the price point that allows it to be composed of solid wood rather than laminate, which is when layers of wood are pressed together to form the body. When solid wood is used, it means the body has been cut from one single piece of wood. This means the nuances/grain will flow perfectly, and this contributes to the overall tone of the mandolin.
In addition to tuning the strings you can also adjust the bridge to your preference.
This is a professional quality mandolin for a very affordable price. It is amazing that it’s made of solid wood and stays in tune, looks beautiful and is so carefully made. The resulting sound is crisp and clear. It gives a very bright and pleasant tone, with wonderful action. Action refers to the height of the strings above the fretboard that allows you to play.
When you strum a chord, you will be able to feel the notes reverberating inside the body as you hold it against your stomach. Put your ear to the F hole and listen closely to the way the music rolls around inside the body. This is the mark of high quality at an unbeatable price. It is affordable for beginners but also produces such a high quality sound that seasoned performers will fall in love with it, too. This model sells for around $575.